Intelligent Eating
Counselling and Coaching
for Weight Management in Winchester

Miranda's Blog * Why diets don't work and why healthy fats are good for you. Plus some of my quick, delicious recipes*


The body goes into starvation mode if calories are cut back drastically, you lose muscle and metabolism slows down, so burn fewer calories

Cravings due to nutritional deficiency leads to eating more

Motivation reduces if feeling deprived, hungry or stressed as cortisol affects appetite

Better to change habits gradually, make sustainable lifestyle changes, enjoy balanced food in moderation


Essential functions in the body – it is a myth that a diet which is very low fact/no fat is a healthy diet, need to distinguish healthy fats and unhealthy fats which contribute towards degenerative disease

Around 60 % of your brain is made of fat

Fat is needed for the body to use fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K

Fat insulates your body and preserves heat

Cells have membranes made of fat and sheathes around nerves are made of fat. Communication between cells happens on cell membranes

Eat a range of fats in moderation including monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and a very small amount of saturated fat. Avoid artificial hydrogenated fats – this is a process which converts liquid into a hard fat using heat and chemicals - not good for cell membranes

For cooking use saturated hard fats sparingly. Use organic butter, coconut oil, ghee as more stable in heat, light or oxygen. Olive oil is next best as moderately stable in heat

Use good quality extra virgin olive oil, ideally cold pressed for salad dressings, and wholefoods containing polyunsaturated fats, rather than extracted oils eg nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts and pumpkins. Avocado = good source of healthy fats

Essential Omega- 3 fatty acids are used by our brain, nervous system and cell membranes and are important in anti- inflammatory system. Eat oily fish eg sardines, salmon and mackerel, and leafy greens, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds sprinkled on porridge or cereal.

Avoid vegetable oil – rapeseed treated to make Canola, as it is highly processed


See recipes in The Food Bible/ Judith Wills, or fast meals from Jamie Oliver and Nigel Slater

Some of my meals and snacks developed to be healthier and quicker and help with weight management:

Roasted veg with couscous - Mixed chopped veg eg peppers, squash, red onion, sweet potato, carrot in small amount olive oil/ spray and rosemary roasted for 20/25 mins at 200 degrees with couscous (wholewheat couscous available from Waitrose Love Life) or quinoa

Variation – couscous tagine with roasted veg, cashews and chopped apricot

Cauliflower/ broccoli/leek/potato with cheese sauce - quick and easy, lower fat version made with any mix of steamed chopped veg. Cheese sauce made by heating 150ml (half a small tub) of reduced fat crème fraiche with a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard and grated parmesan/ 50 grams half fat cheddar, seasoned with pepper. Add cherry or sliced tomatoes serve. Variation – have roasted halved small sweet potato instead of potato.

Pasta with tomato and lentil sauce – wholewheat macaroni/penne/ fusilli/ spaghetti with sauteed onion and garlic plus tinned plum tomatoes and small handful red lentils softened for 20 mins. Could also use fresh tomatoes and add water to cover with reduced salt vegetable bouillion eg Marigold. Serve with mixed leaf salad and chopped cucumber/ any salad you like. Tip: use capers, olives or pinenuts in sauces instead of seasonings.

Wholemeal tortillas stuffed with sautéed chopped veg and tinned tomatoes topped with grated parmesan, baked 20/25 mins until top is crisp, served with bio-yoghurt and mixed green salad

Chilli and rice made with chopped onion, garlic, carrot and peppers, plus red kidney beans, borlotti beans etc with finely chopped chilli served with wholegrain basmati rice, bio- yoghurt and mixed salad

Frittata – roast chopped veg in olive oil and mixed herbs/ rosemary for 20 mins then add 2/3 beaten free range eggs, preferably organic and cook until set. Serve with good bread and salad

Breakfast: porridge with berries, bio yoghurt and mixed seeds – delicious!

Lunch: Houmous and crudites – reduced fat has higher chickpea content eg from Aldi. Serve with sticks of carrot, radishes, sliced cucumber, celery etc. Finish with an apple and Satsuma or other fruit

Snack – small tupperware container mixed nuts and chopped apricots/ dates/ blueberries with fruit tea

Snack – banana with decaf coffee

Snack – 2 oatcakes and cottage cheese topped with sliced cucumber


My 14 tips: Introduce gradually and add three of these every week to lose some weight by Christmas!

Buy a nice notebook and jot down how you get on.

Take a photo of yourself and put it inside a cupboard door to remind you why you want to lose weight. Take regular photos to spur you on to achieve and maintain your desired weight.

Plan your meals and snacks for the week ahead – only buy food you know is going to be good for you! Ban unhealthy food or move it to the back of your highest cupboard. We eat what is close to hand. Enjoy choosing and cooking colourful healthy food for 3 meals and 2/3 snacks per day. Cook extra and freeze as individual ready meals.

Reduce/ cut out foods with added sugar eg biscuits, chocolate bars, cakes – instead develop a liking for a small treat of a few squares of 85% cocoa dark chocolate after dinner.

Read food labels – do you really want that substance in your body? Look out for no added sugar foods eg peanutbutter, tinned corn in water with no added sugar. Check ready meals - Waitrose offers healthiest options with no additives.

Cut down/ avoid processed meals and refined foods eg pies, pastries, commercial pasta sauces – eat food in its natural form as much as possible to control sugar, fat and salt intake. Cut down on refined carbohydrates and choose whole grains for slow release energy, avoiding peaks in blood sugar levels caused by your body being flooded with glucose after a sugary drink or food, insulin being released and subsequent cravings as blood sugar drops. Eating wholefoods means that you get fibre and nutrients in the right balance.

Pause before you eat, try a glass of water first or distraction eg put on some music, move around. Are you hungry needing energy, or are you eating for entertainment or emotional reasons? Notice your triggers to eat and develop a strategy to deal with this eg stress reduction.

Reduce portion size and eat balanced meals in moderation – use a smaller plate. Eat some protein, carbohydrate and fat in proportion at each meal – see NHS Eatwell plate and NHS Choices website.

Eat as wide a variety of foods in moderation as possible, especially vegetables and fruit to get a range of essential nutrients. Try a new vegetable or fruit each week. The Japanese recommend 30 different foods in a day and they have one of the lowest obesity rates in the world! Variety keeps us interested - avoid huge plates, all you can eat buffets and huge pub portions.

Improve your sleep and stress levels - develop a liking for fruit/herbal/decaf teas and decaf coffee. Stress increases cortisol in the body and increases appetite, as does lack of sleep. Remember to take time to relax regularly eg listen to music, learn meditation.

Cut down your alcohol and drink more water. Beware the sugar and calorie content of alcohol. Try sparkling water with slice of lemon or lime instead. Keep alcohol as a treat and use a smaller wine glass. Water makes up a large proportion of the body and we need to have plenty for optimal health – this can come from hot drinks, fruit, soup and vegetables too.

Stay motivated- think long term. Don’t deprive yourself of favourite foods, but plan ahead, choose good quality, sit down and savour food – slow down, be mindful and enjoy a smaller amount, knowing this treat will be available again as you build your healthier lifestyle. Enjoy eating as part of socialising with other people and indulge yourself now and then!

Don’t fall into the trap of all or nothing thinking- if you overeat one day, get back on track the next day by eating less and keep going!

Start doing some exercise you enjoy which you will keep up, and build in regular sessions eg learn to dance, dust off your bike, sign up at a friendly gym or join a walking group. This will boost endorphins and help you sleep too! If you have a sedentary job take extra care to walk at lunch time or move around during the day – get outside for some time every day.

It’s all about energy balance- you will put on weight if you consume more calories than you use. Carbohydrate is the main source of energy – the body converts this to glycogen, and excess over your needs will be laid down as fat if you don’t exercise! Do some resistance exercise to build muscle and thus speed up your metabolism - join in with Joe Wicks Body Coach sessions on facebook –good for resistance exercises you can do at home with no equipment - to build muscle, and thus speed up metabolism (rate at which you burn calories).

Reward yourself for reaching weight loss goals and maintaining them - buy some special shower gel, or new clothes, or have a new experience!

How can I help you with weight loss and weight maintenance?

I've been through it - I understand how you feel

I'm a counsellor and coach who specialises in weight management and works in private practice in Kings Worthy. I can help you understand your relationship with food and help you achieve weight management goals through ongoing support and motivation.

I have an Advanced Diploma in Nutrition and Weight Management and have a lifelong interest in healthy eating, I've been vegetarian since birth and worked in a famous wholefood shop in London in the 1980s.

Healthy eating is a passion of mine, about which I'm continually researching and reading. I'm concerned by rising obesity levels in the UK – just compare how how much healthier we were during 1940’s rationing and the 1970's when I was growing up. Since then there have been big changes in society, with 24 hour availability of food, bigger portion sizes in pubs and restaurants, and fast food outlets are everywhere. There is also a confusing amount of conflicting advice about diets and supplements.

I can tailor my support to your needs and help you look at what's caused you to put on weight and your overall eating patterns throughout life - for example, you may be a yoyo dieter.

We can look at the influences on your eating eg upbringing, self-esteem, partner.

We can look at your current emotional eating patterns eg comfort eating, stress management, disordered eating.

We can look at your habits eg eating in front of TV, in your car, eating mindlessly.

I can help you develop strategies to make lifestyle changes and stay motivated.

I can give you advice on healthy eating based on NHS guidelines.

I offer sessions at my private practice in Kings Worthy, which is convenient for Alresford and Southampton (I'm just off the M27).

Sessions are 50 minutes and cost £40.

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